Social and economic drivers for hydro development in Danube countries
Hydropower has been the dominant source of renewable electricity generation in the Danube region for decades. Due to the comparatively limited remaining potential, this position is expected to change in most ICPDR countries with non-hydro renewables taking the lead in the transition towards a more sustainable power system. Nevertheless, hydropower still offers economic potential and the expansion of hydropower is on the agenda of project developers and national energy policies. But due to new hydropower capacities frequently affecting river stretches with a high ecological value the expansion of hydropower has caused increasing environmental and social concerns. The ICPDR has already addressed ecological aspects of hydropower in its Guiding Principles on Sustainable Hydropower Development in the Danube Basin; however, experience has proven that the assessment of conflicting interests between renewable energy and climate targets on the one side and nature conservation on the other side requires an exhaustive understanding of both downsides and upsides of hydropower. For this reason, the ICPDR decided to complement the already existing knowledge base of ecological impacts of hydropower with an evaluation of social and economic drivers for hydropower development in Danube countries.